By: Julie A. Fast
People with bipolar disorder live on the edge of mood swings. This means that what we do in our every day lives affects how we wake up the next morning. The internet, constant access to binge watching on Netflix and other channels, 24 hour stores and a lifestyle that never seems to slow down affects our brains just as much as it affects our bodies.
How can you slow down? Believe it or not, you can still be overstimulated when you’re depressed. Your body might be moving slowly, but if you’re like me, you mind is racing like a Formula One car. We are not only manic when we get overstimulated.
I suggest the following so that we can all find some peace and stability. It’s not easy to turn off and tone things down a bit in this busy world, but it’s essential if you want to stay stable.
1. Have a specific time where there are no electronics. I have gone back to buying books at used book stores. I recently read some Hemingway and a few other favorite authors just to keep my brain a bit more calm. I especially enjoyed the novel Less by Andrew Sean Greer that just won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. I also recommend the book Three Junes by Julia Glass for a good read. If you like non fiction, The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis is amazing. He also wrote Moneyball. If you’re older, think of what you used to do for entertainment before the internet took over. If you were born into a world of the internet, please know that your brain needs a break. Do something with your hands. Draw. Work on a car. Do anything that is off the screen. Our brains need this.
2. Examine your relationships. This works in two ways: one, do you have enough human contact in your life? We tend to isolate when the depression is raging and then over commit ourselves during a mania. How do you find balance? I know that I tend to cut people off when I am not feeling well. This is not a positive. I must reach out to people in order to stay well. Then, there are relationships that are making you ill. Maybe you see someone who is overstimulated due to their own problems. This means you have to make a choice. If you want to be stable, seeing them less is an option. No, the other person won’ t like this, but you do have to think about yourself if you want to find stability.
These are two simple things you can do to handle an overstimulated brain. This is a daily challenge for me. I force myself to turn off Facebook. It’s a rabbit hole that never ends. I spend way too much time on Youtube when I’m not feeling well and I know that I need to see more people instead of always being on my computer.
I crave stability, but at the same time I do things that cause my brain to go into overdrive. I want to find balance. What about you?